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Triple Crown (snooker)

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Logo of the Triple Crown Series

The Triple Crown refers to the three most prestigious tournaments in professional snooker: the World Championship, the UK Championship, and the invitational Masters. Players who win all three tournaments over the course of their career are said to have won the Triple Crown. In January 2020, these tournaments were formally named the Triple Crown Series, with any player who had won all three gaining the right to wear an embroidered crown on their waistcoat reflecting their achievement.

Eleven professional players in snooker's modern era have won a career Triple Crown: Steve Davis, Terry Griffiths, Alex Higgins, Stephen Hendry, John Higgins, Mark Williams, Ronnie O'Sullivan, Neil Robertson, Mark Selby, Shaun Murphy, and Judd Trump. O'Sullivan has won the most Triple Crown titles, with 20, while Hendry has won 18 and Davis 15. Only Davis, Hendry, and Williams have won all three Triple Crown events in a single season, with Hendry the only player to accomplish this feat twice.

History[edit]

In 1969, the World Snooker Championship became a single elimination tournament, replacing the previous challenge format; this marks the start of the professional game's "modern era." [1] Six years later, a non-ranking invitational event, the Masters, was introduced; there were 10 competitors in the inaugural Masters in 1975, which later increased to 16 players.[2] John Spencer won the 1975 Masters tournament, becoming the first person to win two Triple Crown events, having won the world championships in 1969 and 1971.[3] The following year, Ray Reardon won both the Masters and World Championship in the same season.[4][5]

In 1977, the UK Championship was created. Originally restricted to British residents and passport holders, the tournament was opened to all professionals in 1984 and also became a ranking event.[6][7][8] Patsy Fagan won the 1977 UK Championship, in his only Triple Crown final.[9] In the 1980–81 season, Steve Davis won both the 1980 UK Championship and the 1981 World Snooker Championship, and was the first player to complete the career Triple Crown when he won the 1982 Masters the following season.[10][11][12] Davis was also the first player to complete the season Triple Crown, winning all three events in the 1987–88 season.[13]

The Triple Crown events are sometimes referred to as the "big three BBC events", due to them having been broadcast by the British Broadcasting Corporation since inception.[14][15][16] They are also sometimes called "snooker's majors",[17][18] or the "big three" events.[19][20] Triple Crown events are considered the most prestigious snooker titles, and have generally offered the most prize money.[21][22][16] However, in recent years, prize money for other events, such as the China Open and the upcoming Saudi Arabia Snooker Masters has exceeded that of these events.[23][24] From the 2020 Masters onward, players who have completed the Triple Crown have a gold crown embroidered on their playing waistcoats in recognition of their achievement.[25]

Career Triple Crown winners[edit]

Ronnie O'Sullivan has won 20 Triple Crown titles—the most by any player in history—including a record seven UK titles and a record seven Masters titles.

Eleven players have completed a career Triple Crown: Steve Davis, Terry Griffiths, Alex Higgins, Stephen Hendry, John Higgins, Mark Williams, Ronnie O'Sullivan, Neil Robertson, Mark Selby, Shaun Murphy, and Judd Trump.[26][27] Only Davis, Hendry and Williams have won all three Triple Crown events in the same season. Hendry is the only player to achieve the feat twice, in the 1989–90 and 1995–96 seasons.[28][29]

After winning the 1999 Masters, John Higgins held all three Triple Crown titles at the same time but his victories spanned two seasons. Only O'Sullivan and Hendry have managed to successfully defend all three Triple Crown events. In 2013, Robertson became the first player from outside the United Kingdom to complete the career Triple Crown.[30] Following his win in the 2018 UK Championship, O'Sullivan surpassed Hendry's previous record of 18[31] and now has won 20 Triple Crown titles. Trump is the most recent player to have achieved a career Triple Crown, winning the Masters and World Championship in the 2018–19 snooker season.[32]

Player Total World
Championship[33]
UK
Championship[34]
Masters[35] Winning
span
England Ronnie O'Sullivandagger 20 6 7 7 1993–2020
Scotland Stephen Hendrydagger 18 7 5 6 1989–1999
England Steve Davis 15 6 6 3 1980–1997
Scotland John Higginsdagger 9 4 3 2 1998–2011
England Mark Selbydagger 8 3 2 3 2008–2017
Wales Mark Williamsdagger 7 3 2 2 1998–2018
Northern Ireland Alex Higgins 5 2 1 2 1972–1983
Australia Neil Robertsondagger 4 1 2 1 2010–2015
Wales Terry Griffiths 3 1 1 1 1979–1982
England Shaun Murphydagger 3 1 1 1 2005–2015
England Judd Trumpdagger 3 1 1 1 2011–2019
Legend
The names of active players are marked in bold dagger

One win away from Triple Crown[edit]

Of those still active on the tour as of 2020, four players have won two of the three events, leaving them one away from completing the career Triple Crown.[26][27] Jimmy White, Matthew Stevens and Ding Junhui all need to win the World Championships, having won the Masters and UK Championships. Stuart Bingham needs to win the UK Championship, having a World Championship title and a Masters championship to his name.[26][27]

Former professional players Peter Ebdon, John Parrott, Ray Reardon, John Spencer, Dennis Taylor, Doug Mountjoy and Cliff Thorburn won two of the three events before retiring.[26][27] Ebdon and Parrott won both the UK and World championships, with Parrott reaching the final of the Masters on three occasions between 1989 and 1992.[26][27] Reardon, Spencer, Thorburn and Taylor won the World Championship and Masters titles during their careers, but not the UK Championship.[27] Mountjoy failed to win only the World Championship, reaching the final in 1981.[27]

Tournament winners[edit]

A list of all winners of the three Triple Crown events is shown below by season:

Season UK Championship[36][37] Masters[38][39] World Championship[40][41] Ref.
1968–69 started in 1977/1978 started in 1974/1975  John Spencer (ENG) (1/4) [33]
1969–70  Ray Reardon (WAL) (1/7) [33]
1970–71  John Spencer (ENG) (2/4) [33]
1971–72  Alex Higgins (NIR) (1/5) [33]
1972–73  Ray Reardon (WAL) (2/7) [33]
1973–74  Ray Reardon (WAL) (3/7) [33]
1974–75  John Spencer (ENG) (3/4)  Ray Reardon (WAL) (4/7) [35][33]
1975–76  Ray Reardon (WAL)dagger (5/7)  Ray Reardon (WAL)dagger (6/7) [35][33]
1976–77  Doug Mountjoy (WAL) (1/3)  John Spencer (ENG) (4/4) [35][33]
1977–78  Patsy Fagan (IRL)  Alex Higgins (NIR) (2/5)  Ray Reardon (WAL) (7/7) [35][33]
1978–79  Doug Mountjoy (WAL) (2/3)  Perrie Mans (RSA)  Terry Griffiths (WAL) (1/3) [35][33]
1979–80  John Virgo (ENG)  Terry Griffiths (WAL) (2/3)  Cliff Thorburn (CAN) (1/4) [34][35][33]
1980–81  Steve Davis (ENG)dagger (1/15)  Alex Higgins (NIR) (3/5)  Steve Davis (ENG)dagger (2/15) [34][35][33]
1981–82  Steve Davis (ENG)dagger (3/15)  Steve Davis (ENG)dagger (4/15)  Alex Higgins (NIR) (4/5) [34][35][33]
1982–83  Terry Griffiths (WAL) (3/3)  Cliff Thorburn (CAN) (2/4)  Steve Davis (ENG) (5/15) [34][35][33]
1983–84  Alex Higgins (NIR) (5/5)  Jimmy White (ENG) (1/2)  Steve Davis (ENG) (6/15) [34][35][33]
1984–85  Steve Davis (ENG) (7/15)  Cliff Thorburn (CAN) (3/4)  Dennis Taylor (NIR) (1/2) [34][35][33]
1985–86  Steve Davis (ENG) (8/15)  Cliff Thorburn (CAN) (4/4)  Joe Johnson (ENG) [34][35][33]
1986–87  Steve Davis (ENG)dagger (9/15)  Dennis Taylor (NIR) (2/2)  Steve Davis (ENG)dagger (10/15) [34][35][33]
1987–88  Steve Davis (ENG)double-dagger (11/15)  Steve Davis (ENG)double-dagger (12/15)  Steve Davis (ENG)double-dagger (13/15) [34][35][33]
1988–89  Doug Mountjoy (WAL) (3/3)  Stephen Hendry (SCO) (1/18)  Steve Davis (ENG) (14/15) [34][35][33]
1989–90  Stephen Hendry (SCO)double-dagger (2/18)  Stephen Hendry (SCO)double-dagger (3/18)  Stephen Hendry (SCO)double-dagger (4/18) [34][35][33]
1990–91  Stephen Hendry (SCO)dagger (5/18)  Stephen Hendry (SCO)dagger (6/18)  John Parrott (ENG) (1/2) [34][35][33]
1991–92  John Parrott (ENG) (2/2)  Stephen Hendry (SCO)dagger (7/18)  Stephen Hendry (SCO)dagger (8/18) [34][35][33]
1992–93  Jimmy White (ENG) (2/2)  Stephen Hendry (SCO)dagger (9/18)  Stephen Hendry (SCO)dagger (10/18) [34][35][33]
1993–94  Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG) (1/20)  Alan McManus (SCO)  Stephen Hendry (SCO) (11/18) [34][35][33]
1994–95  Stephen Hendry (SCO)dagger (12/18)  Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG) (2/20)  Stephen Hendry (SCO)dagger (13/18) [34][35][33]
1995–96  Stephen Hendry (SCO)double-dagger (14/18)  Stephen Hendry (SCO)double-dagger (15/18)  Stephen Hendry (SCO)double-dagger (16/18) [34][35][33]
1996–97  Stephen Hendry (SCO) (17/18)  Steve Davis (ENG) (15/15)  Ken Doherty (IRL) [34][35][33]
1997–98  Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG) (3/20)  Mark Williams (WAL) (1/7)  John Higgins (SCO) (1/9) [34][35][33]
1998–99  John Higgins (SCO)dagger (2/9)  John Higgins (SCO)dagger (3/9)  Stephen Hendry (SCO) (18/18) [34][35][33]
1999–2000  Mark Williams (WAL)dagger (2/7)  Matthew Stevens (WAL) (1/2)  Mark Williams (WAL)dagger (3/7) [34][35][33]
2000–01  John Higgins (SCO) (4/9)  Paul Hunter (ENG) (1/3)  Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG) (4/20) [34][35][33]
2001–02  Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG) (5/20)  Paul Hunter (ENG) (2/3)  Peter Ebdon (ENG) (1/2) [34][35][33]
2002–03  Mark Williams (WAL)double-dagger (4/7)  Mark Williams (WAL)double-dagger (5/7)  Mark Williams (WAL)double-dagger (6/7) [34][35][33]
2003–04  Matthew Stevens (WAL) (2/2)  Paul Hunter (ENG) (3/3)  Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG) (6/20) [34][35][33]
2004–05  Stephen Maguire (SCO)  Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG) (7/20)  Shaun Murphy (ENG) (1/3) [34][35][33]
2005–06  Ding Junhui (CHN) (1/4)  John Higgins (SCO) (5/9)  Graeme Dott (SCO) [34][35][33]
2006–07  Peter Ebdon (ENG) (2/2)  Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG) (8/20)  John Higgins (SCO) (6/9) [34][35][33]
2007–08  Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG)dagger (9/20)  Mark Selby (ENG) (1/8)  Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG)dagger (10/20) [34][35][33]
2008–09  Shaun Murphy (ENG) (2/3)  Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG) (11/20)  John Higgins (SCO) (7/9) [34][35][33]
2009–10  Ding Junhui (CHN) (2/4)  Mark Selby (ENG) (2/8)  Neil Robertson (AUS) (1/4) [34][35][33]
2010–11  John Higgins (SCO)dagger (8/9)  Ding Junhui (CHN) (3/4)  John Higgins (SCO)dagger (9/9) [34][35][33]
2011–12  Judd Trump (ENG) (1/3)  Neil Robertson (AUS) (2/4)  Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG) (12/20) [42][43][44]
2012–13  Mark Selby (ENG) (3/8)  Mark Selby (ENG) (4/8)  Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG) (13/20) [45][46][47]
2013–14  Neil Robertson (AUS) (3/4)  Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG) (14/20)  Mark Selby (ENG) (5/8) [48][49][50]
2014–15  Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG) (15/20)  Shaun Murphy (ENG) (3/3)  Stuart Bingham (ENG) (1/2) [51][52][53]
2015–16  Neil Robertson (AUS) (4/4)  Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG) (16/20)  Mark Selby (ENG) (6/8) [54][55][56]
2016–17  Mark Selby (ENG)dagger (7/8)  Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG) (17/20)  Mark Selby (ENG)dagger (8/8) [57][58][59]
2017–18  Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG) (18/20)  Mark Allen (NIR)  Mark Williams (WAL) (7/7) [60][61][62]
2018–19  Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG) (19/20)  Judd Trump (ENG)dagger (2/3)  Judd Trump (ENG)dagger (3/3) [63][64][65]
2019–20  Ding Junhui (CHN) (4/4)  Stuart Bingham (ENG) (2/2)  Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG) (20/20) [66][67][68]
Legend
Player won all three Triple Crown tournaments in the same season double-dagger
Player won two Triple Crown tournaments in the same season dagger

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